GAO to issue e-gov report

The General Accounting Office is set to release a report on the cross-agency collaboration of the Bush administration's 24 e-government initiatives, according to speakers at an industry sponsored event Nov. 20.

The GAO report may be available as soon as next month, said Kevin Landy, a professional staff member for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., chairman of the committee, asked the GAO to conduct the study.

"It's not a matter of whether we are going to do [e-government], whether we can do it, or how. I think the attention might be focusing quickly to what results are we getting to the approaches of putting services online," said David McClure, vice president for electronic government for Council for Excellence in Government, and a former executive at the General Accounting Office.

Melissa Wojciak, staff director of the House Government Reform subcommittee on technology and procurement policy, said: "We are anxious to see what comes from the GAO review. We hear good things, but we are anxious to see the results."

The three spoke at a meeting of the Industry Advisory Council in Falls Church, Va., and expressed cautious optimism about the success of the Bush administration's e-government agenda. The council is a group of IT professionals providing products and services to the government.

The administration's agenda seeks to identify and promote e-government projects that can deliver significant productivity and performance gains across government, and in the process provide more and better government services electronically to citizens.

The projects include a Web portal for grants information and applications, and a portal for information on disaster assistance and crisis response. The projects have been under way for about a year, and each one is designed to involve staff and funds from several agencies.

The IAC panel members praised the efforts of Mark Forman, the administration's e-government czar.

"It's a credit to Mark and how hard he has worked, how he has brought all of the agencies together on these 24 initiatives," Wojciak said. "[But] there is a long way to go."

A provision of the Electronic Government Act, which passed the House and Senate last week, is particularly key to the lasting success of e-government, Wojciak said. The bill, H.R. 2458, puts an OMB Office of Electronic Government and its leadership position into law, "letting agencies know that it isn't going to go away no matter who is in the White House," she said.

"I hope Congress sending the clear signal that Mark Forman's position isn't going to go away from administration to administration and that there is going to be continuous management and budget oversight of information technology initiatives will make a tremendous difference [in interagency cooperation]," Wojciak said.

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